Carol's Story

A couple of years after having disc surgery, Carol knew something wasn't right. The soles of her feet were becoming numb and her legs and back started to ache.

Carol and her doctor tried many different treatment options, including medical patches, acupuncture, oral medications, and physical therapy. The treatments didn't relieve the pain, and the oral medication had many negative side effects.

"I was nauseous, I had no appetite, and I lost over 25 pounds," recalls Carol.

Carol's physician recommended neurostimulation and scheduled a screening test. "While the neurostimulation felt like a good massage, it did not ease the pain," says Carol. "We decided not to go forward with this option."

Living With the Pain

An MRI confirmed that Carol had spinal canal stenosis and a herniated disc. Within 2 months, she was bed-ridden.

"I wasn't able to complete any of the household chores, garden, or go to the store," says Carol. "When I sat or stood, the pain was unbearable even with strong pain pills."

The pain affected both Carol and her husband, Larry. "He did the shopping, laundry, bathed me, and so much more," Carol says. "It was so hard for him because there wasn't anything he could do about the pain."

After seeing a neurosurgeon, Carol underwent a second disc surgery. "As soon as the anaesthesia wore off, I knew the disc surgery hadn't relieved the pain," Carol says. Her doctors told her she had nerve damage, and there was too much scar tissue for additional surgery.

A Second Chance

Eventually, Carol was referred to a pain clinic in Portland, Oregon. "The physician sat down with us and asked me if it would relieve even 50% of the pain, would I want the Medtronic pump? I said yes!"

After having the pump implanted, Carol finally found immense relief from her chronic pain.

"The Medtronic pump has changed our lives," she explains. "I had been down, flat on my back, for over 4 months. My husband took care of me 24 hours a day. We were feeling so afraid and hopeless. Because of the pump, I am now able to take care of myself. We've returned to a near-normal existence."

Risks of Intrathecal Drug Delivery

Carol was aware that complications were possible. Surgical complications can include spinal headache, infection or anaesthesia complications. Post-implant complications may include an inverted pump, catheter issues such as leaking, dislodgement, or kinking, or drug-related side effects.

"There are a few activities I still can't do and I still have some aches and pains if I overdo it," she says. "But they are minor in comparison to what the Medtronic pump has done for me."

"My husband and I have our lives back. It means so much to us both."

This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

Last updated: 22 Sep 2010

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